The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency within the United States Department of Labor (DOL) tasked with enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. This federal labor law governs the safety and health of employees in the workplace in both the public and private sector. Employers are responsible for facilitating a safe workplace and providing the necessary equipment to protect employees from job-related hazards. However, meeting the rigorous standards established by OSHA is much more complex than you might think, especially in the construction industry.
In this two-part series, our OSHA lawyers will detail a comprehensive checklist of employer responsibilities under the OSH Act.
Every regulation put into action by OSHA is intended to help your workers. As an employer, you have a lot to deal with on top of keeping your workers safe, but pleading negligence doesn’t excuse you from your legal responsibility. The essential elements of OSHA’s mission include:
- Maintaining full compliance with the OSH Act.
- Facilitating a safe workplace.
- Recognizing and removing workplace hazards.
- Examining workplace conditions.
- Furnishing the proper tools and equipment for workers.
- Utilizing color codes, posters, labels, or signs to alert workers to the presence of potential hazards.
- Creating operating procedures and updating them accordingly.
- Explaining safety and health requirements to workers.
- Providing safety training that is comprehensible to all workers.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of OSHA’s rules and regulations, and it’s handled in a variety of ways. Communication doesn’t just include streamlining the flow of information between various parties on the project site. It involves displaying helpful information and keeping accurate records of workplace incidents. For example, if there are hazardous chemicals on your project site, you are required to develop a written hazard communication program to be instituted on the project site. You must also instruct these workers about the necessary precautions for dealing with these chemicals.
Displaying the OSHA poster, which details workers’ rights and responsibilities, is another requirement. This poster provides valuable information for workers that may not be communicated clearly to them otherwise. Another aspect of communication employers must be cognizant of is the reporting protocols for work-related fatalities. In the incident of work-related fatalities, the employer is required to contact the nearest OSHA office to report it within 8 hours. Similarly, work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye are to be reported within 24 hours. The purpose of these rules and regulations regarding communication is to ensure that worker life is preserved and accountability is maintained among employers. Failure to report a work-related injury or fatality according to these guidelines could result in an OSHA citation.
Employer responsibilities are complex, especially when you add the additional burden of OSHA oversight; however, there’s no excuse for the inability to keep your workers safe. In part two, we will discuss more employer responsibilities.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.